“I’m never bored, I’m challenged every day with healthcare reform and banking industry changes.”
Betsy Cohen started at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts four decades ago, and has seen much change throughout the financial, healthcare, and insurance worlds.
Betsy enjoys photography and going to see live music. She even spends time on family vacations with musicians she’s met over the years.
“Our go-to place is Key West, and we go for the music and the food. We’ve made a lot of friends with the local musicians, and try to go down there a few times a year,” says Betsy.
So how does this joie de vivre translate to the workplace? NEACH chatted with Betsy recently to learn more about her passion for her work and the relationship between healthcare operations and financial services.
NEACH: How did you get involved in financial services?
Betsy: My sister worked at Blue Cross and she referred me for a clerical job doing check disbursement processing. She was a real go-getter back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when women mostly had clerical jobs, and I strived to be like her. I went to school at night and worked my way up to director.
NEACH: What one thing is your organization doing in payments that’s unique?
Betsy: What we’re in business for is to make provider claim payments. The ACH claim payments we make are mandated by HIPAA in standard formats so it’s not unique. NACHA recently added rules on healthcare claim payments to be required in a standard CCD+ format as well, so we can’t really be creative. The format allows the providers to electronically match the ACH payment to the 835 (remittance advices) that we send separately which has brought a significant amount of automation and savings to the industry as we have significantly reduced bank fees, postage and printing.
NEACH: What do you think will be the biggest change in payments over the next three to-five years?
Betsy: I think it’s probably in the peripheral space, where the transfer of funds back and forth may get easier.
NEACH: What business topic keeps you up at night?
Betsy: Bank fraud and government mandates.
Betsy: We don’t know what’s coming as far as changes to the Affordable Care Act; we just made changes to accommodate it and now we’re just not sure how it will impact our transactions. I’m hoping they take time to do it right, if they are going to make changes, because it’s a lot of work to make changes to our systems.
When it comes to fraud protections, whenever something new comes out, we implement as quickly as possible. If there is new banking technology, we usually let the industry go through trials and tribulations with new products and see how it plays out.
NEACH: What excites you most about the industry and your role in it?
Betsy: It’s constantly changing. I’m never bored. I’m challenged every day with healthcare reform and banking industry changes. All require review and monitoring and project work.
NEACH: How do you participate with NEACH?
Betsy: Because we make so many payments by ACH, with provider claim payments, member and account online billing, and operating expense payments all made by ACH, we utilize NEACH as a resource to decipher the rules, review their publications, and attend conferences to keep up with rules changes and industry trends.
Keeping up with NACHA rules is difficult sometimes, and NEACH is our go-to resource. If we send an email asking questions, we usually get an immediate response. Everyone has been extremely attentive.
NEACH: In working with NEACH, what do you think others don’t know about the organization?
Betsy: It’s a great resource for corporates—not just financial institutions. When you get communications from NEACH, they’re really geared toward originating depository financial institutions (ODFIs) and receiving depository financial institutions (RDFIs). While the information is geared towards ODFIs & RDFIs, it’s ultimately the company initiating the transactions who is responsible for the payments they are making, so it’s critical for Corporates to understand the rules as well. I think corporates could learn a lot by participating in NEACH. You shouldn’t even think twice about it.